Wednesday, March 15, 2006

The rights of the individual versus the rights of the public

Two issues I saw today on the internet that are a bit tricky.

Number one: Movie theaters may ask to jam cell phones
There is no doubt that people on cell phones are annoying....especially in movies. I think that people who talk on their cell phone during a movie are endangering their safety. However, if you jam cell phones in movies, what happens if their is an emergency? Are you going to be able to turn of the jamming device in time? Are you intruding on someone's personal property and rights?

Smoking in private business. Many, many cities are passing no smoking bans all over the place. Soon, you will only be able to smoke in your own house...and I have seen people trying to pass laws that you can't even do that.

I don't smoke (except maybe at the cigar bar). I hate smelling smoke. However, where does my rights stop, and another's begin? Smoking is not illegal. How can we tell a business owner they can't have a legal activity happen at their business?

My solution would be to allow businesses that get a majority (% can be argued) of their income from alcohol or tobacco to still have smoking sections. I agree that restaurants that have a "smoking" section that is sectioned off by an invisible force field need to go. But I still have a problem telling a bar owner or a cigar shop owner they can't have smoking...


Mike M said...

Smoking is easy, allow private individuals and businesses to set their own policy on their own property. Consumers have a right to patronize the business or not. Simple as that.

As for public open space, the most local governing authority applicable should be able to set that policy, and I would vote for the least restrictive policy possible. Public buildings should always be smoke free.

Cell phones... Equally simple: The government should have no authority to regulate cell phone use within private establishments. Specificaly in theaters, I think there should be some kind of device that would cause every cell phone in a room (movie theater) to ring, so those who really did "forget" can turn them off.

I would respect theater owners who made it a policy that anyone talking on a cell phone during a movie could be immediately removed from the room by everybody within earshot. This would greatly discourage the disrespectful, and ensure that the people who are responding to emergencies would get up and leave the room...because if it really is an emergency, who's going to say, "Oh, you're in labor? Okay, well the movie's about half done, I'll come drive you to the hospital when it's over"

Specifically about jamming... I have no problem with it, so long as two conditions apply:

First, Interference may NOT extend beyond what is considered restricted area (ie, inside a theater where you have to pay money to get past). Anywhere a person can freely be without entering into a contractual obligation with the private property owner (like buying a ticket or entering a private club).

Second, all such restrictions must be clearly posted, such that anyone who isn't stoned stupid and asleep understands that their cell phones won't work inside.

The Game said...

I'm trying to play devils advocate a bit, your answer is sound...but I want more comments before I debate...

GreenBayPat said...

Whatever did we do before cellphones were everywhere, including in the bathroom stall next to me? We went and found a payphone. Since people have no manners these days and can't be counted on to leave the area with a cellphone conversation or a screaming baby, please, at least jam that which is jammable when it makes sense.

Most smokers have few manners as well, judging by how many cigarette butts I used to dig out of my lawn, how many cigarette butts are laying around in public and how many lit cigarettes come flying out of windows of cars, not to mention the empty packs and wrappers I see along the road. Can you tell it's a pet peeve of mine? It should be ok in bars & clubs as long as they install a superb ventilation system. Never in a place that serves food as it's main business. After all, how come you can't smoke in theaters, grocery stores or airplanes any more? Those are all private businesses. Most people don't want to breathe your emanations, whether it comes out of your lungs or your ass. If you can't keep it to yourself, it shouldn't be allowed in public.

the rhyno said...

I think Mike hit it right. From the Libertarian on this blog, the private individual or owner has the right to set its own policies on its property. Though, putting up signs would be a courtesy, hopefully.

the rhyno said...

Oh, and greenbaypat, have you tried finding a payphone in a public mall or building lately? Its not easy.

The Game said...

The common sense answer is Mike's. Smoking is legal, and business owners can have legal things happen in their businesses. People who argue that it affects everyone there are correct, but this is a free country and you do not have to go somewhere there is smoke.

Now, I will compromise a bit. If a majority of your business is food, you would have to have a separate section for smoking, meaning a separate, walled-off room. Having a "smoking section" where it is simply on the other side of the room is ridiculous

Anonymous said...

I actually agree with you here. :) As a smoker, I want the right to smoke at bars, at restaurants, etc. I don't want to intrude on other's (non-smokers) rights, but I don't want mine intruded on, either.

As for cell phones in movies - if you think you'll get an emergency call, why not use the vibrate option? Simple enough, right?

Mike M said...

If you really are anticipating an emergency call, what are you doing in a movie?

Anonymous said...

Mike, there's that, too. But maybe in times of stress people need to chill. Shrug, beats me!

Mike M said...

That's true. There are those times even in extreme situations where you know there's not going to be anything happening for a few hours. Koosh balls can only go so far to take the mind off pain.